Primer

Water Budgets: A Holistic Look at Efficiency

Developing a water budget for a building can identify opportunities for savings that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Have we been focusing on the wrong water-efficiency measures all along? Even though low-flow and low-flush fixtures have become common over the years, fewer project teams have been aware of the water savings that could be realized by looking at cooling towers, commercial kitchen equipment, medical equipment, and even municipal steam systems. The water consumption from these can dwarf that of bathroom fixtures.

Fortunately, there are tools available to help look holistically at how to get the biggest—and most cost-effective—water savings in a building. A “water budget” is a framework that has long been used to look at the relationship of input and output of water flows in a region. By looking at the interplay of precipitation and evapotranspiration, planners and hydrologists can understand when an area has a water deficit or surplus.

Published January 28, 2013